Feds want forest input on Colorado powerlines | AspenTimes.com

Feds want forest input on Colorado powerlines

Bob Berwyn
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Bob Berwyn/Summit Daily NewsThe U.S. Forest Service wants to clear dead trees from powerline corridors in the White River National Forest. Falling trees or a fire have the potential to affect wide areas of the western power grid.

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. – A wildfire along one of the West’s key powerline corridors could shut down the grid in a worst-case scenario. To avoid disruption, the U.S. Forest Service wants to remove dead and dying trees along powerlines crossing national forest system lands in northern Colorado.

The Routt, Arapaho and White River national forests are all experiencing pine-beetle epidemics as well as a significant loss of aspen trees from sudden aspen decline. To launch the project, the Forest Service will host three open house meetings, including a Sept. 2 session at the Forest Service visitor center in Silverthorne. Ohter meetings will take place in Steamboat Springs and Fort Collins.

“There is an imminent threat to powerlines from an increasing number of hazardous trees falling in the three forests,” said Cal Wettstein, commander of the Forest Service’s Bark Beetle Incident Management Team.

The proposal would allow the Forest Service or utility companies with powerlines on the three forests to fell and remove all hazardous trees within approximately 200 feet from the centerline of transmission lines and within 75 feet of centerline of distribution lines.

There are about 500 miles of distribution and transmission lines on national forest system lands, across northern Colorado, including around 40 miles of powerlines in roadless areas. Although the powerlines are located on national forest lands, they do extend into private lands located within the three forests’ boundaries. The analysis does not include actions on those private lands.

If you cannot attend an open house but would like to participate in the development of this project, send comments to Mary Ann Chambers, 2150 Centre Ave., Building E, Fort Collins CO, 80526 or send an e-mail to machambers@fs.fed.us.

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To be considered in the project analysis comments should be received prior to Oct. 2. As it becomes available, additional information on this project can also be found on the Forest Service website at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/bark-beetle.

bberwyn@summitdaily.com

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